MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Passersby driving to work on McHugh Boulevard aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune early in the morning Oct. 5 saw nearly 700 service members and civilians working up a sweat next to the Protestant Chapel in preparation for the Combined Federal Campaign 5K run.
However, the run itself was not the focus of the morning. It was a promotional tool to attract people to the donation campaign, now in its 50th year.
The CFC is an annual fundraising drive that provides an opportunity for federal civilian, postal and military employees to donate to local, national and international non-profit organizations. The mission of the CFC, as established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee-focused, cost-efficient and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all, according to the campaign’s website. To date, more than $5 billion has been raised.
Since Sept. 8 of this year, the Onslow County CFC unit coordinators aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River and surrounding installations have been spreading awareness about the campaign, using various methods, such as the 5K run.
Maj. Micah M. Miller, environmental counsel for the Eastern Area Counsel Office, MCB Camp Lejeune and the CFC’s MCB Camp Lejeune uniform command coordinator, said the run went well and was a great way to get the word out about the CFC.
“(The Onslow County CFC) wants to thank everyone who came out for the run,” said Miller. “The CFC 5K was a great way to get the message out. We need to contact as many people as we can. Our goal is 100 percent contact of base personnel.”
Miller added that while discussing the CFC “in passing” has been considered making contact in the past, he focuses on the quality contacts – through those who can have an impact on the majority of others.
“Through presentations given by unit representatives, we are able to get the word out by informing leaders who will then inform their subordinates,” said Miller. “The CFC provides a great service to the potential donators. The CFC screens out each charitable organization ahead of time, even the same organization that has been on the list for years to make sure they are in fact legit. This information is designed to inform those who want to contribute so they know exactly where their money is going.”
Donating, however, according to the national trend, is on the decline. As Americans have seen the ugly side of the sluggish economy the past few years, so have charities.
According to a Wall Street Journal article last year, the Giving USA study, an organization that has tracked charitable donations since 1956, philanthropy has become less prevalent. Since 2008, national annual donations have dropped from $315 billion to nearly $300 billion reported last year.
Last year, the Onslow County CFC raised more than $960,000. Miller added that since the program is designed for federal employees and especially during an uncertain economy, the time to donate is now.
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River and the surrounding installations, contributes greatly to the immediate area outside the bases.
Last month at a Historical Society of Topsail Island luncheon in Topsail Island, the Topsail Advertiser reported through construction projects, income from base personnel, the local economies benefited at least $6 billion in 2010.
“When hard times occur (across the country), it affects everyone,” Miller said. “So when people (and charitable organizations) need it the most, people here can afford to give. It’s a vicous cycle.”
Darnita Butts, a management analyst with the Manpower Department, Marine Corps Installations East, was named chairwoman of the CFC’s Local Federal Coordinating Committee this year, and her job is to make sure local CFC coordinators are proactive about the program as possible.
“It’s not only our job to make people aware of the program, but also to make them aware about what some of these organizations do,” said Butts. “When we had the tornado and hurricane came through here, there were nonprofits out there helping the service members and their families out. With people knowing how these charities are helpful to humanity, hopefully that will entice them to donate.
To make a donation, the only way federal employees and service members, in the past, was to fill out a form and make a payroll deduction. Now, to help simplify the process, the CFC is in its second year of providing E-giving, which is an automated process of making a donation online.
“Last year, the CFC ran a test run of donating online,” said Butts. “This year, it’s fully operational and they have worked out the bugs.”
The CFC awareness campaign will officially end Dec. 2, with new organizations set to apply to be put on the list in January, for the 2012 campaign.
To donate, or for more information about the CFC, go to www.onslowcountycfc.org or its national website at opm.gov/cfc/.